After partying at their homes and then Appiano, the match against Sampdoria was the first opportunity for Inter to celebrate their Scudetto at the San Siro. While the festivities made for great photos, there was still a match that gave us a couple of things to reflect on.
A Brilliant Alexis
Sitting third in the pecking order behind Lukaku and Lautaro, Alexis Sanchez has been one of the unsung heroes of Inter’s season. For the first time in years, Inter had a top-quality striker to bring off the bench or to put in the decisive performances when the big two needed a break. He wasn’t always perfect, but his overall output of 20 goal involvements in 21 appearances is absolutely tremendous for a player labeled as past his prime. Against Sampdoria, Alexis played like a man who loved his football and really missed being on the pitch. His second goal was a strike hit with surgical precision and showed that he still offers something unique to this side.
After the match, Conte (who had previously praised the role Sanchez had played this season) confirmed that the Chilean would start again against Roma. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hold his spot for all the remaining games if he keeps this form up.
Another Handanovic Blunder
Along with our former captain, Samir Handanovic was the top performer during our dark years of the previous decade. He saved us time and time again, and always acted with the utmost professionalism. No one deserved this Scudetto more than him. However, this season he has committed a number of clear errors that have led to goals and the episode that led to the 2-1 was another example of a keeper that is on a downward trajectory. The transfer budget is going to be tight and the club may only be able to improve one area of the starting eleven. If he continues to make mistakes over the next few matches, a new goalkeeper may cement itself as the club's number one priority.
What about Vecino?
The Uruguayan made his first start of the season against Sampdoria, filling in for Barella as the energetic box-to-box midfielder on the right-hand side. He didn’t look out of step, showing off his incredible athleticism up and down the ground and getting himself involved in both phases of the game. It was a reminder to Inter fans of just how talented he is.
But, as anyone who’s been watching him the past three seasons, the performances are not the norm. As a starter, he simply isn’t good enough for a side challenging for top honors and cannot expect to displace any of the top-three midfielders in our team. I think, however, he’s the closest thing we have to a vice-Barella and could certainly have a role off the bench. I’d rather we keep him than the much more expensive Vidal. However, Vecino has attracted transfer interest in the past and could be sacrificed to improve other areas (see above).
Radu and Pinamonti Show Something
These two products of the youth academy have had a tough year. Too old for the Primavera, but not yet good enough for a side challenging for the Scudetto. Both have had to bide the time on the bench and soak up as much as possible from training with such quality players and coaches. When they did finally get their chance against Samp, both the striker and goalkeeper left the fans wanting more. It was a neat finish from Pinamonti - a player who made his debut back in 2016 as a 17-year-old being hailed as the next big thing - to score his first-ever senior goal for Inter. Down the other end Radu (although not particularly busy) looked secure and showed no signs of nerves despite his very first appearance of the season.
It will be interesting to see what happens with both in the coming weeks/months. Both were only introduced against Samp once the game was effectively won, so it is hard to see them feature against Juve or Roma. After the season, the club will need to make a choice as to whether they’re good enough to contribute on the pitch or be used to raise funds on the transfer market.
A Thanks To Those No Longer With Us
Thinking about Vecino reminded me of that night in Rome a few years ago, when his late header returned Inter to the Champions League. It was an absolutely pivotal moment in Inter’s recent history and a big reason we were able to win the Scudetto.
There have been lots of people acknowledged for Inter’s success - Conte, Marotta, Zhang, and (of course) the squad. But I thought it was still worth thinking about two who have since moved on. For me, Luciano Spalletti is the big one. He turned our basket-case of a club into a top-4 side and allowed Inter to massively increase its revenue and attract top-quality players. I also think Mauro Icardi played a big role in this, as his goals are what kept Inter relevant - particularly in Spalletti’s first season. If we acknowledge Vecino’s winners, we have to consider what the Argentine gave to the club and how it helped us return to the big league. That said, I’m happy to see his career slowly dwindle away in France. Those of you that follow Inter on IG may have noticed that the club reposted a huge number of congratulations from celebrities/players around the world - but did not acknowledge the post from our former captain. That relationship is definitely over.
Did we miss anything from the match, or is there anyone else who you think had a role in Inter’s success? Let us know in the comments below.